I have always believed very strongly in the idea of following your heart when it comes to deciding what is, or is not, ethical. I believe that deep down everyone really knows what the right thing to do is. The problem is, this doesn't always work for everyone. For one thing, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between what is right and what is expected. Things sometimes feel right because everyone does them and no one questions them when, if people really stopped to consider what they are doing, they would realize they are morally unjustifiable.
I personally feel that animal rights is one of the most important issues facing our society today. For me, it is something I don't even have to think about. I know, without a doubt, that the way our society treats animals is reprehensible and we must do everything in our power to stop it. Unfortunately, there are many people who disagree. These people just don't inherently feel for animals the way I, and many others I know, do. Many times these people have asked me what makes me believe I am right when so few people agree with me.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that there a a lot of people who feel just as strongly about causes that I completely disagree with. I started to wonder if there was some way to decide which causes are just, and which are not. To try to solve this problem, I came up with a list of things that I think define a cause as just or unjust.
A just cause:
1. Has legitimate moral reasons why you should do something, not only why you should be allowed to do it.
2. Has supporters who are not directly affected, but are advocating for those who are.
3. Is supported by those who stand to gain nothing if their goal is achieved.
4. Uses only the truth to gain new supporters.
5. Refuses to resort to violence to achieve goals.
6. Is based on love and acceptance.
7. Seeks to reduce suffering.
8. Relies upon the strong or privileged standing up for the weak or underprivileged.
9. Has supporters who gladly sacrifice time, money and personal convenience for the good of the cause.
10. Spreads a message of equality.
11. Proclaims rights for all.
12. Works for the greater good.
An unjust cause:
1. Has reasons (good or bad) why you should be allowed to do something, but no reasons why you should do it.
2. Is supported only by those who are directly affected.
3. Has supporters who stand to gain, monetarily or otherwise, if their goal is achieved.
4. Must lie in order to gain new supporters.
5. Resorts to violence or threats of violence to achieve goals.
6. Is based on fear and prejudice.
7. Ignores or denies suffering.
8. Relies upon the strong or privileged standing up for their own interests.
9. Has supporters who refuse to make sacrifices.
10. Spreads a message of superiority.
11. Proclaims the rights of its own group while denying those of others. greater profits.
12. Works for greater profits. I'm not saying this list works for every cause, but I think it is a good place to start.
Thanks for reading!
Image credit: Tobias Akerboom (at hutmeelz)